Institution is a hub of innovation and innovation never comes out of degrees. Along with book learning, institution must provide learning environment and learning space too. Worldwide institutions are merging business and education to serve the students in a better way and improve their economy. 58% of total population of Pakistan is at the age of going to school or college, total population under this category is more than 60 million and 183 universities are educating 6 million students but we have not created such alliance to forge a new direction. Merge of education and business can create a win-win situation. A recent collaboration agreement between GlaxoSmithKline and the University of Cambridge puts academic scientists into the laboratories on the GSK campus in Stevenage which shows the potential of increased collaboration of UK industry. Strong linkage between academia and industry can deliver innovative commercial products. Professor Achim Kampker of Aachen University leads a consortium of over 50 companies that have designed and built a cheap, modular electric vehicle called the Street Scooter. It goes into full production in 2013 and DHL have pre-ordered 3500. That is commercial success facilitated by academic skills and inputs. Few other examples are; Raven the surgical robot, a result of a collaboration between the Universities of Washington and California Santa Cruz, robot manufacturers and computer games companies.
The current population of Pakistan is 200,942,676. According to National Human Development Report (NHDR), Pakistan has largest population of young people ever recorded in its history. Currently it is one of the youngest countries in the world and the second youngest in the South Asian region after Afghanistan. In order to utilize the youth bulge properly Pakistan needs to create 4.5 million new jobs. Linkage between institutes and industries can serve the purpose.
“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people that they are basically good and smart and if you give them tools, they will do wonderful things with them”. Steve Jobs
This will not only need lesser budget but also enhance the economic stability of the country. The Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction survey reveals that such partnerships were worth £3.9 billion last year, up from £3.6 billion in 2012-13. There are several institutions worldwide that are getting advantage from business-academia alliances. Such as U.S. National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institution. Here comes a goal oriented partnership that brings some small companies, universities and even a community college closer to the industry. Another example is Austria’s Christian Doppler Laboratory and associated entities. Its 50% of partnership is financed by commercial partners.
We lack commercial research and development opportunities in the universities that are essential for production of innovative and commercial products which would be based on universities’ inventions. Japan aims to be the world’s most innovation friendly country by 2030. Their focus is to forge maximum education and industry collaboration and the government has set a target of at least 4% of GDP for total R&D investment by the public and private sectors.
For Pakistan, unemployment has always been on a higher side. The fact remains harsh and stagnant for the country, despite many interventions of workforce development. These days we look at CPEC as the upcoming “command post” to solve most of the socioeconomic issues faced by the country. But the opportunities will mostly be surfaced for the technically skilled and capacitated human resource. We need to start filling the skill gaps which could hamper the Pakistani youth from making most of this endeavor of national development. A closer alliance between the educational and training institutes, public sector and the industry can help bridge the gap and develop the workforce we need to make Pakistan a 21st century knowledge-based economy.